It seems almost every night in the NBA, there’s a must see point guard matchup. It’s the leagues deepest position, and with so much change this past offseason, the question must be asked: who are the top-10 points guards heading into 2019-20. We graded them, but we want to hear your thoughts as well. Check out PSO’s rankings, and then create your own!
With Kevin Durant now residing in Brooklyn and Klay Thompson out with injury, Steph Curry enters the 2019-20 season with the third-highest MVP odds only behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis. Over the Warriors five-year playoff run, Curry is first among point guards in scoring and EFG%, third in RPG and fourth in APG. Quicker and stronger guards take advantage of him on defense, but he at least puts forth solid effort and works well within a team system. Numbers aside, his unprecedented ability to bend a defense with his shooting fundamentally changed the way basketball is now played.
Finally, Damian Lillard getting the respect he deserves. Perceived as the 3rd best point guard behind Curry and Westbrook, Dame Dolla put that conversation to rest once he waved home Westbrook’s Thunder in last year’s playoffs. He’s not the stat sheet stuffer that Westbrook is, but in the modern NBA, efficient outside shooting matters much more than snatching uncontested rebounds. Despite being known as a scorer, Lillard knows how to get his teammates involved; he averaged nearly 7 APG with a 2.6 AST/TO ratio. While it isn’t represented in the grades, Lillard’s got the clutch and leadership intangibles that impact winning beyond Xs and Os.
Russell Westbrook had to drop a spot on this list after three straight first-round exits, but third-best is still pretty damn good, considering the company ahead of him. Everyone knows the triple-double stats, but it’s how efficiently he sets up his teammates that deserves recognition. Last season, 18% of passes he made led to an assist, the highest rate in the league. Defensively he’s been known to gamble, but last season he accounted for 5.0 Defensive Win Shares and had a career-high in blocks. There are definitely questions about his fit in Houston, but nobody can deny Westbrook’s individual greatness.
Kyrie’s reputation definitely took a hit after flaming out in Boston, but hidden amongst the wreckage was his best statistical season to date. He averaged 23.8 points, but it was his efficiency and passing that stood out. Among guards that took 1,000 shots this season, Kyrie had the third-highest EFG% (55.7%) and his assist to turnover ratio (2.70) was third among point guards. He posted his first positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus ever and fell only six steals short of setting a career-high in one season. With a clean start in Brooklyn, hopefully, fresh morale near his hometown in NJ unleashes Irving’s potential with his A1 handles and finishing abilities.
Despite his lack of a jumper, Ben Simmons does virtually everything else on the court at a high level. As a passer, he’s got the Lebron/Magic gift of vision and is one of the few players in the league that truly makes those around him better. Among guards, his rebounding average (8.8) is second to only Russell Westbrook; once he grabs a defensive rebound, nobody is better at igniting a fastbreak. Standing at 6’10, he’s capable of locking down opposing point guards, switching on to bigger wings and holding his own in the post against power forwards. If he can knock down just a few outside shots a game, even if it’s just mid-range jumpers, the 76ers arguably would become title favorites.
It took eight seasons, but finally Kemba Walker has the opportunity to play for a winning franchise. With Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown flanking him, he won’t be shooting 20+ times a game, but his efficiency and assist numbers will rise. The Celtics are a far superior 3-point shooting team than the Hornets, opening up avenues for Walker, who’s already a crafty finisher around the rim. With multiple playmakers on the team, Walker will grow by learning how to play off the ball, and Marcus Smart is the perfect compliment to mask Walker’s defensive shortcomings.
After a ho-hum rookie campaign, De’Aaron Fox took huge strides forward in Year Two and was a borderline All-Star. He’s got a special athleticism that allows him to blow by defenders, and within 5 feet of the rim, he was one of the league’s most efficient scorers (61%). Known as an inconsistent shooter, Fox increased his three-point attempts from 2.1 to 2.9 and efficiency from 30% to 37%, but it remains to be seen if last season was simply an apparition from the norm. He’s still figuring out the nuances of NBA defenses, but he’s got all the length and quickness to be a stud on that end of the floor.
Trae Young haters might want to look away. Declared by some to be a bust just a few months into the season, Young turned it on once the new year rolled around, averaging 22 points and 8.6 assists from the start of 2019 on. First-round picks De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish provide new toys to play with on offense, and Kevin Huerter is shaping up to be one of the steals of the 2018 draft. It’s impossible to avoid the fact Young was a train wreck on defense, but he’s bulked up considerably this offseason. Combine an increase in usage with an upgraded supporting cast, and Young could average around 22 and 10 this season and be considered among the PG’s elite.
In terms of trade value, CP3 is dead weight due to his behemoth contract. In terms of talent, however, he’s still a top-10 Point Guard in the NBA. He finished 3rd among point guards in net rating (+8.3), fourth in AST/TO ratio ( 3.11) and second in defensive rating (104.2). He won’t have the same weapons surrounding him as he did in Houston, but he’ll have greater control over the offense in Oklahoma City. It’s a possibility he gets shipped out to a pseudo-contender mid-season but wherever he goes, he’ll bring his trademark consistency with him.
Jamal Murray inked a 5 year, $170 million dollar contract in the offseason, so the expectation is for him to break into the All-Star conversation this year. He showed promise throughout last season, dropping 48 on Kyrie and hitting clutch shots throughout the playoffs. Offensively, he’s the perfect scoring guard to complement Jokic’s passing, but Murray hasn’t exactly been Mr. Consistent. In Game 7 vs. the Blazers last playoffs, he shot 4-18 from the field and 0-4 from deep. Jokic is the primary playmaker on the team, so Murray’s focus should be on improving his efficiency rather than passing.